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Colombia's ELN rebels free nine hostages
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Nine hostages held by Colombia's rival armed group National Liberation Army (ELN) on Sunday were freed and handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross, local officials said.

The ELN handed over the hostages, seven male truck drivers kidnapped on Jan. 2 and two women whose identities remained unclear, in a rural area of Samaniego, said Antonio Navarro, governor of the Narino province, adding that all the hostages are in good conditions.

The 4,500-troop ELN is Colombia's second-largest guerrilla group after the Revolutionary Armed Forces pf Colombia (FARC), with 31,000 troops.

The ELN has held intermittent peace talks with the government since December 2005 in Havana, Cuba. Bogota has asked the ELN to end kidnapping and release all hostages it held, estimated at more than 400.

(Xinhua News Agency, January 21, 2008)

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